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Terminally ill dad celebrates an early Christmas with ‘miracle’ son

Evoke.ie logoEvoke.ie 21/12/2016 Claire Murrihy
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When Jay Clark was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer two months before the birth of his son, he feared he wouldn’t see the child’s first Christmas. 

But with help from a newspaper, Jay, his partner Caroline Donoghue and their 10-month-old son Maxie, celebrated a perfect day complete with Santa and presents!

It would have been a special moment for any parent but for Jay, it was overwhelming. 

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Speaking to REX, he said: ‘Today had to be as special as possible because Maxie’s so young. The pictures are memories that will never fade away.’

‘And when he reads this one day, I hope he’s had a happy life and I hope he’s learned from Daddy’s experiences, like dealing with life’s adversities.

‘I want him to know that Daddy misses him and he will always miss him.’

Despite his heartbreaking situation, Jay refuses to be sad in front of his son. After all, he and Caroline never thought they would even be able to have children. 

When the couple met two years ago, plasterer Jay knew he was infertile. Dog groomer Caroline, 37, had already spent £21,000 on failed rounds of IVF after she was also told she’d never conceive naturally.

Yet, despite the odds, the couple discovered they were expecting a child last May. 

Caroline admitted: ‘Jay and I were over the moon, overjoyed about this miracle pregnancy.’

However, their joy was shortlived as seven months later, Jay fell ill with crippling stomach pain and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 

Initially, doctors thought they’d caught it in time but three weeks later they learned the tumour was inoperable as it was growing on an artery.

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Chemotherapy followed and baby Maxie was born on January 9th. 

Jay’s mother passed away in May, and a few months later he decided to end his intensive course of radiotherapy to spend quality time with his son. 

It was the right decision for the doting dad who now has hundreds of pictures of them having fun together, from wearing matching onesies to taking the first swimming lesson.

Jay was thrilled to celebrate ‘Christmas’ with his son but is determined to be here for the big day itself, as well as Maxie’s first birthday on January 9th.

‘Maxie really is the thing that keeps me going. He’s a little miracle in so many ways. Any one of us can get cancer.’

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‘The difference is I have the luxury of knowing roughly when and how I’m going to die. And that gives me time to prepare.’

Jay is practical about what’s going to happen and has written cards and arranged presents for Maxie to open throughout his childhood. 

He has also set up a JustGiving page to help support Maxie and Caroline. She has had to devote all her time to caring for him.

Jay wants more research into pancreatic cancer and has a Facebook blog, BeMoreJay, urging people to check any ache, pain or lump and helping them be as upbeat as possible.

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‘There can be lots of silver linings,’ he insists. ‘How many fathers get to spend the first year of their son’s life with them?

‘And now I spend an early Christmas with him too. Despite everything, I consider myself to be a lucky man in many ways.’

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